March 9, 2010
This Week In Milwaukee Baseball
UWM (4-5) vs. #14 Arkansas (8-2)
Baum Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.
Fri., March 12 at 3:05 p.m.
Arkansas leads all-time series 3-0
UWM (4-5) vs. #14 Arkansas (8-2)
Baum Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.
Sat., March 13 at 2:05 p.m.
UWM (4-5) vs. #14 Arkansas (8-2)
Baum Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.
Sun., March 14 at 1:05 p.m.
A challenging week lies ahead for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team, as it prepares to take on its first nationally-ranked opponent of the season when it heads south for the weekend to take on the University of Arkansas. The teams play one game apiece on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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Game one gets underway at Baum Stadium at 3:05 p.m. Friday, with Saturday's game time set for 2:05 p.m. and Sunday's first pitch slated for 1:05 p.m. These two teams have met in just one other series all-time, with the Razorbacks sweeping the Panthers in a three-game set in February of 2007. This time around, they rank as high as No. 14 in the polls.
The 2010 campaign marks the 46th season of baseball at UWM. It is also the 41st season of varsity play (the program was played at the club level from 1982-1986) and the 20th in the Panthers NCAA Division I era.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
The Panthers will have their hands full with Arkansas, a team that went 41-24 in 2009, a season that will go down in the record books as one of the greatest in the history of the program. The team made its sixth trip to the College World Series and had its best finish, tied for third in the nation, since 1975 when the Razorbacks finished as the national runner-up to Cal St.-Fullerton. They were also ranked nationally in five major college preseason baseball polls. The Razorbacks were ranked by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (No. 15), Rivals.com (No. 15), USA Today/ESPN poll (No. 16), Baseball America (No. 17) and Collegiate Baseball (No. 23).
They are off to an 8-2 start in 2010, led at the plate by Tim Carver (.394), Zack Cox (.385), Andy Wilkins (.371) and Collin Kuhn (.364). Brett Eibner (2-1, 1.64 ERA) and Mike Bolsinger (2-0, 1.69 ERA) anchor a string staff.
The Panthers made a great run of it, going 4-1 in five games last week. They took second at the Riverview Inn Invitational, going 3-1 on the weekend (Host Austin Peay went 3-0). In addition, the team got a nice win at Minnesota midweek. UWM batted .325 as a team, led by a torrid .643 average from sophomore Paul Hoenecke. He was 9-for-14, recording seven extra-base hits, driving in nine and scoring seven times. In addition to Hoenecke, seniors Ben Long (.467/3HR/6 RBI), Tim Patzman (.350/5 RBI) and Shaun Wegner (.313) were also over the .300 mark.
On Monday afternoon, Hoenecke was tabbed Horizon League Player of the Week for his efforts, the first league honor of his career.
On the mound, junior Cuyler Franzke was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, recording victories over Minnesota and SIU Edwardsville with five shutout innings. Senior Jordan Herbert was also at a 0.00 ERA, throwing five scoreless frames in a win against Dayton Sunday. Overall, seven different pitchers made scoreless appearances over the five-game stretch.
Senior Ben Long did something that has only been done on just a pair of occasions in UWM's NCAA Division I history when he hit three home runs in the same game against SIU Edwardsville March 6. The home runs, all solo blasts coming in the first, fourth and fifth innings, marked the first time a UWM player hit at least three in over 10 years. Both of the other occurrences happened during the 1999 season, with Todd Ludwig setting the school record with four (March 17 vs. Tennessee Tech) and Chad Sadowksi hitting three (April 28 vs. Concordia).
Junior Cole Kraft also tied a school record against Dayton March 7, recording three doubles in the same game. That record, however, has been set and tied on many occasions over the past few years alone, most recently by Paul Hoenecke last season (4/10/09).
NOW THAT'S GRAND
Not to be lost in the home-run headlines from the game against SIUE was senior Dan Buchholz's grand slam in the first inning. The slam was the first of Buchholz's career and the first since the 2008 season for Milwaukee. Since the Panthers hit four of them in the 2006 season (Matt Curran/Ross McCoy/Zak Rivera/Matt Curran), just two more have been hit since then. Kyle Silver cleared the bases against Chicago State May 8, 2007 and Jesse Hart recorded the slam against Wright State in the league tournament May 22, 2008.
The shutout that seniors Jordan Herbert (5.0 innings) and Lucas Annen (4.0 innings) combined for against Dayton March 7 was impressive on a few fronts. First off, the Flyers had come into the game averaging over eight runs and 11 hits in their first 11 games. Besides the zero runs, the pair of hurlers also surrendered just five hits on the day. That was the fewest in a game for UWM since allowing just three in a 12-1 win over Cleveland State May 3 of last season. Secondly, if you look back through the record book, there has been just one shutout thrown earlier, by date or team game, in program history. That came in the 2006 season, when the Panthers beat St. Mary's (CA), 2-0, in the season opener Feb 10, behind seven scoreless innings from Robert Michalkiewicz.
Scoring 20 runs in a game is impressive, which is what Milwaukee did against SIU Edwardsville in game one March 6, a 20-2 victory. That marked just the 19th time it has happened in UWM's NCAA D-I history (almost 1,000 games) and the first since beating Wright State, 20-3, in the 2008 Horizon League Tournament. The most impressive thing about Saturday's result was that Milwaukee was playing a seven-inning game against the Cougars, so the runs came in just six innings. The team scored five in the first, three in the second, a pair in the third, five in the fourth, one in the fifth and then four more in the sixth to reach the total of 20 in the contest.
Senior Dan Buchholz showed off his power potential, hitting two home runs against Arkansas State in game two Feb. 27. At the time, it marked the first multi-homer game for UWM since Tim Patzman and Doug Dekoning both hit two against Chicago State April 7 of last season. It also marked one of the earliest-ever by date, with only Josh Groves two-HR game in the season opener in 2008 (Feb. 22) coming sooner than Buchholz's outing.
GETTING THINGS ROLLING
Starting the season in the dead of winter in Wisconsin makes for challenging conditions to start the year with stellar record. At 4-5 overall, UWM is off to its best start through nine games since being the same 4-5 in the 2002 campaign.
LUCKY 7? ... UM, MAKE IT 6
When looking at the results so far in 2010, one number sticks out. The Panthers are 4-0 when scoring at least six runs but 0-5 when scoring fewer.
PRESEASON NATIONAL SHOWINGS
Rivals.com predicted the Panthers to finish third in the league standings, following Wright State and UIC. The site also picked a preseason all-conference squad that included senior Tim Patzman and junior Doug Dekoning.
Collegebaseballinsider.com did not project an order of finish, but did select the Raiders as the team to beat. The website polled the league head coaches and came up with the following spots where UWM was represented:
~The best defensive outfielder is: Doug Dekoning, Milwaukee
~The three best pure hitters are: Casey McGrew, Wright State; Tim Patzman, Milwaukee; Quentin Cate, Wright State
~The three biggest power threats are: Quentin Cate, Wright State; Casey McGrew, Wright State; Tim Patzman, Milwaukee
The website CollegeBaseballToday.com projected Wright State as the favorite and Milwaukee and UIC as "contenders". It lists seniors Ben Long and Tim Patzman, juniors Doug Dekoning and Cole Kraft and sophomores Paul Hoenecke and Cameron Amsrud as all-conference candidates.
START THE COUNTDOWNS
Two historic victories should be within reach this spring, as the Panthers will enter the 2010 season 23 wins away from 500 at the NCAA Division I level as a program, currently sitting with 477 at the D-I level. Also, Scott Doffek starts the campaign 22 wins away from No. 100 as the UWM head coach.
Milwaukee recorded 25-plus wins for the 12th time in the past 13 years in 2009, a season in which head coach Scott Doffek was named Horizon League Coach of the Year after leading the Panthers to a second-place finish in the league standings.
Doffek's team had a league-high four first team all-league selections a year ago and set a school record by going 14-1 at home. That established new standards for home-game winning percentage (.933) and also with a 13-game home winning streak that will carry over into 2010. He has won 78 games in his first three seasons, a school record, after already establishing marks for most victories by a first-year head coach (25) and most after his first two seasons (50). He was rewarded with a new three-year contract following the season.
LET'S HIT THE ROAD...
The Panthers will be busy waiting for the snow to melt and Henry Aaron Field to be ready for them to play in Milwaukee. While that happens, they will be playing 20-straight road games to open the 2010 slate. That will seem easier compared to other seasons, as the record for longest season-opening road trip was set at 30 games in 2008. The Panthers will travel over 6,300 miles over the course of the first five weeks of the season via plane or bus, visiting five different states (Arkansas twice, Minnesota, Tennessee, Kansas and Illinois twice) before playing their home opener March 30 against Parkside.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Panthers took the phrase "home field advantage" to a new level in 2009. In 15 games at "The Hank" and at Miller Park, Milwaukee went 14-1 and sported a .363 batting average and 2.98 ERA as a team (Note: UWM did lose a make-up game at Cleveland State in May as the `home' team). Seven regular starters batted over .300 and four were at .404 or higher. Senior Tim Patzman (.490) led the way with an impressive 25-for-51 showing, hitting six home runs and driving in 20 runs in the 15 games. Josh Groves (.429) was next, recording a .491 on-base percentage and scoring 15 runs. Third on the list was sophomore Paul Hoenecke, (.423), who batted 22-for-52 and knocked in 20 runs and scored 15 times. Shawn Wozniak (.404) was also over .400, going 19-for-47 and scoring 16 times with 14 RBI. UWM hit 19 home runs compared to just two for its opponents. On the mound, the staff compiled a sparkling 2.98 ERA. Brad Lusti (2.88 ERA, 21 K's in 25.0 IP) and Andy Hetebrueg (2.74 ERA, 21 K's in 32.0 IP) were both 2-0 in three home starts.
JUMP RIGHT IN
Junior Doug Dekoning carried a 16-game hitting streak into the new campaign. He hit safely in the first two games in 2010 to extend it to 18 - a personal-best. Dekoning went 28-for-75 (.373) in that stretch. The 18-game streak marks the longest for UWM since Nick Wichser had a 24-game streak at the end of the 2008 campaign.
DOESN'T YOUR ARM GET SORE?
Sophomore Cameron Amsrud will look to improve on a successful first year in a UWM uniform. He went 5-1 with a 4.94 ERA in 33 games as a freshman, with those 33 appearances finishing second in the Horizon League. That was quite a bit of work for a freshman, setting a record for the most-ever by a first-year pitcher in program history (previous record was 26). He worked 31.0 innings, striking out 21 batters and limiting opponents to a .257 average - the lowest on the squad of those with more than 20 innings pitched.
READY TO GO
Sophomore Paul Hoenecke stepped right in as a freshman last season, earning Horizon League All-Newcomer Team honors after batting .286 with 30 runs batted in. He appeared in 50 games, with his 46 starts the most for a UWM freshman since Ross McCoy made 50 back in 2004.
BASEBALL SEASON ALREADY
The February 26th start to the season is one of the latest in recent years. The last time a UWM team started later was in 2004 when Milwaukee opened the campaign at Kansas on March 5. Three of the four earliest starts to the season have taken place in the past five seasons.
1. 2006: February 10
2. 1999: February 13
3. 2007: February 16
4. 2009: February 20
5. 2003 & 1998 (tie): February 21
The Panthers were picked third in the 2010 Horizon League preseason baseball poll. The Panthers, picked third for the fourth-straight season, will look to improve on their second-place finish from a year ago. Wright State was the unanimous choice for the top spot after going 33-30 last season. It was also the Horizon League Tournament champion in 2009 and returns four all-league performers. The Raiders received six first place votes and 36 points.
UIC comes in second (31 points) and received the other first place vote. The Flames won their eighth-consecutive regular season title in 2009 before getting knocked off by WSU in the tournament championship. UWM sits just behind in third with 24 points after going 28-27 overall last year and taking second place in the regular season standings.
1. Wright State (6) - 36 points
2. UIC (1) - 31 points
3. Milwaukee - 24 points
4. Valparaiso - 22 points
5. Youngstown State - 15 points
6. Cleveland State - 12 points
7. Butler - 7 points
The extended road trip continues for the Panthers, but the opposition continues to be tough. Up next will be a four-game series at Kansas State, a team coming off its first NCAA Regional appearance in school history after the Wildcats went 43-18-1 overall and 14-11-1 in Big 12 play in 2009.